The bookers might not have had much choice. Harnett, with an angelic smile, confessed that she had threatened to cut them if they didn’t allow her band to be the first cab off the rank.
She wove that kind of light and shade into her brand of indie-folk on this night, lightly wearing the responsibility attached to playing the return night of such a beloved venue. She laughed and joked through a set full of lush, Americana-style folk tunes, jangling guitar and a whole lot of honesty.
As she sang, her cowboy hat jauntily positioned, her jacket emblazoned with a sparkling cactus, you could suddenly be transported to the Mojave desert on a windless summer afternoon.
“I’ll be your baby if you want me/I’ll grow my hair long and keep it down,” she crooned in Make You Feel Blue. Yet later came a warning: “I want to do bad, bad things to you.”
Songs followed familiar threads of longing, wandering alone in the darkness, heartbreak and trying to become something a man would love. For the as-yet-unreleased 5AM (And I’m Drunk), she invited backing vocalist and fellow Sydneysider Andy Golledge to join her for a gritty, saxophone-infused tune that sums up the specific strangeness of the after-party.
In a venue such as the Lansdowne, an audience capacity of 50 might have been limiting for less energetic, less graceful performers, but Harnett and her Pony Boys kept the enthusiasm at a high all night, even though the crowd was seated, and the most we could do was raucously cheer and let our shoulders shimmy while staying rooted to our seats.
Maybe it was the power of Harnett’s soulful, melancholic voice, or just the sheer delight of being around strangers again, but the room felt united in its mission to have a damn good time.
That sense of togetherness, that peripheral acknowledgment of others in a room, each experiencing a song in their own way – it’s something no livestream, no matter how star-studded, could hope to imitate.